By Lucy Tate; doggonow.com
According to research, America’s weight gain war isn’t just affecting adults and children — pet obesity is also on the rise. Approximately 53 percent of dogs are overweight, yet more than 90 percent of their owners don’t even realize it. While you may find your pleasantly plump pooch endearing, excess weight can propose serious health risks, to include diabetes; damage to ligaments, bones, and joints; heart disease; increased blood pressure; decreased stamina; breathing issues; heat intolerance; decreased liver function; reproductive problems; digestive disorders, lower immunity; increased risk of cancer; and decreased life expectancy.
Make sure you’re doing your due diligence as a pet owner to help your dog stay fit, trim, healthy, and happy.
Check To See If Your Dog Is Overweight
You may get used to what your dog looks like day in and day out, so even if you don’t suspect any changes, do a regular check to determine whether or not your dog is overweight.
- Do a rib check: Place both thumbs on your dog’s backbone and spread your fingers across the cage as if trying to hold it. You should be able to easily feel your dog’s ribs without too much effort – they should also be slightly visible. If not, it’s likely your pooch has packed on a few pounds.
- Examine the profile: When your dog is standing, check out their underside — a sagging tummy is a sign that your dog is overweight.
- Look at your dog from above: Regardless of sex, dogs should have an hourglass figure if they’re in shape. This is not the case if there isn’t a noticeable reduction in circumference from chest to hips.
Visit The Vet For Dietary Advice
Randomly choosing a “diet” food from the pet store is not a good idea. Definitely take your dog to the vet so he/she can suggest a proper diet based on the current age, weight and health condition (not just weight in some cases) of your dog. You may need to adjust this routine based on weight loss and seasonal changes, too.
Exercise Your Dog Regularly
Taking your dog out to relieve itself does not provide enough activity — especially if your pet is obese. To make this more pleasurable for both of you, make sure you choose a leash that’s comfortable for your dog and easy for you to use. If regular jaunts around your neighborhood start to become too routine, consider taking your pooch to a dog park so it can interact with other canines while burning off some extra calories. Just make sure you’re paying attention at all times so you can monitor any negative behavior to include signs of aggressiveness (your dog or others), and whether there are dogs who appear to be ill.
Take things a step further by signing up for an agility course, a full body (and mind) workout for your pet — and you! Along with helping to control your dog’s weight, other benefits include stronger muscles, improved coordination, and bonding time.
As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure the health and safety of your dog. Like humans, regular activity and a diet based on age, size, and activity level are the keys to weight maintenance and overall health — but only you can provide the proper tools and direction. Added bonus: The extra activity you provide your pooch will help you stay fit, too.
Photo Credit: Pixabay